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Two Years after the BP Oil Spill: The Oil You Cannot See

Apr 18, 2012

On some Florida Panhandle beaches, swimmers can come off the beach with oil from the BP oil spill still on their skin -- two years after that environmental disaster. 

And, even after showering, the oil can still be on their skin. Only an ultraviolent light can show it.

Tampa Bay Times environmental reporter Craig Pittman says that's because leaked oil, mixed with chemical dispersant sprayed on the spill two years ago to break it up, is pooling in some shallow waters of Panhandle beaches.

And the mixture actually accelerates absorption by human skin.  Seen under the ultraviolet light, it's kind of creepy.

"Yes, yes it is... and I think the pictures really tell the story... these very tiny bits of oil mingled with the dispersant that was used to break up the oil, really having soaked into this guy's skin. And you could see it under the ultraviolet light."

Three separate toxicologists were asked if this poses a threat to people. Two said there needed to be an immediate study on the absorption rate and the toxic effects.  The third one, a state employee, said it seems like it's in the range of safety. The state department of health has yet to comment.

[Photos courtesy of James “Rip” Kirby]